New handhelds debut at Comdex

Handheld devices are enjoying ever-increasing popularity, as evidenced by their prevalence at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas this year. Vendors are showcasing models that have more functionality than ever, along with increased flexibility and computing power.

NEC Computers Inc. unveiled its first personal digital assistant (PDA) for sale in the United States. The enterprise-class MobilePro P300 is one of the first to come with Microsoft Corp.'s new Pocket PC 2002 operating system, and it offers several expansion capabilities.

These include CompactFlash II and Secure Digital (SD) expansion slots, as well as a USB host interface. The SD slot enables users to add up to 128M of memory.

NEC bundles several software packages with the device, including the MobilePro Synchronization System client for disaster recovery and synchronization with enterprise servers for mail, application and data files. It also comes with Voice Messenger Force by Ruskun Software Technologies for voice-enhanced instant messaging as well as Westtek LLC's ClearVue software for presenting Pocket PC 2002 applications.

The estimated list price for the MobilePro P300 is $599.

Meanwhile, Handspring is embracing multifunctionality with its introduction of a family of "compact communicators" called Treo.

The Treo products combine the functionality of a mobile phone, pager and organizer into one device. Treo runs on the Palm Inc. Operating System and contains an integrated dual-band radio module for voice and data communications.

Other features include 16M of memory, a 33 MHz Motorola Inc. DragonBall processor, a travel charger with a HotSync cable and a headset for hands-free phone use.

The Treo also comes with Palm Desktop software to synchronize data between a desktop PC and the handheld. A software link is included for users of Microsoft Corp. Windows to synchronize between the Treo and Outlook.

Two models are available: The Treo 180 features a built-in "thumb-size" keyboard, while the Treo 180g comes with Graffiti handwriting recognition software and does not have a keyboard. Both feature grayscale displays, but the company plans to introduce a full-color version in mid-2002.

Both Treo devices have an estimated street price of $399.

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